Animations are a hot commodity right now. They get your message across without having to organise a shoot, set aside office space, pay actors or (possibly worse) coach your colleagues through interviews or pieces to camera. But that doesn’t mean animations are simple to produce. A good Ghostwriter animation takes careful planning, strong client/contractor collaboration, and time. If you don’t invest time and effort in pre-production, you will inevitably end up having to fix problems down the road. It is neither more or less difficult than a live-action video, but it follows its own logic and pacing. Understanding these is the key to creating a great animation. Read on for a detailed description of how we take our clients from concept to finished animation..
Write it down (The Script)
An animation starts with a script, not the other way around. This can seem counterintuitive given that the imagery of an animation tends to be what you remember about it. However, it doesn’t matter how good your imagery is if it doesn’t convey your message This is why every animation begins with you putting some words on paper.
Your script is also your first point of collaboration with us, your animation team. Once you have written your message, it’s the animation producer’s job to review it and decide if it is animatable for the budget you have agreed. There can be considerable difference between a script that reads well/sounds good and one that works well as an animation. The producer’s job is to help you shape the script so the words will work in conjunction with the images to create a seamless and compelling whole.
Sketch it (Storyboarding)
Once we’re both happy with the script, we will storyboard it. This means breaking the script into scenes then sketching an image along with a description to convey what the action will look like in each scene. We provide three rounds of editing on your storyboards so you have ample time to change entire scenes, request specific colours, tweak the script to make it fit the imagery better. The animation is still just an idea on paper and therefore relatively easy to change. Once we have both signed off on the storyboard we consider it locked. Further large changes down the line will incur additional costs.
What’s included in the storyboarding stage and and what’s extra?
Our storyboards will give you a understanding of what will happen on the screen but they will not provide a full indication of the look and feel of the actual imagery. If you want to see the images as they will appear in the video we can make you a mood board or go one step further and get the animator to draw storyboards. These aren’t always necessary, but if you are going for a highly bespoke look we encourage it.
One of the most often-overlooked parts of the animation process, is getting a voice over (VO) artist to record the VO that will form the basis of audible messaging in the animation. Although we work on plenty of text-only animations, animations with VO are slightly more popular. We record with a range of professional VO artists in various styles and all major languages, so no matter what you need, we can find it for you. The key thing to remember is that once they have recorded the script, any change to the verbiage or messaging will need to be re-recorded and they will need to be paid more money. This is why it’s important to get the script right in stage one.
This is the most difficult and time-consuming part of the process. All of the ideas we’ve been developing take hours and days to actually animate. Depending on how complex your imagery is, animating your project generally takes two to three weeks. If you need it in less time than that, talk to your producer; they should be able to offer you a realistic and cost-effective way to condense your time frame.
Once we deliver your shiny new animation we encourage you to take a look at it and see if it has turned out exactly as you expected. If not, that’s okay, you get to make tweaks. However, you only have one chance at this so it’s best to gather the opinions of all the stakeholders and then feed back to us in a single list.
What’s the difference between a tweak and a large change?
One of the most nuanced issues in animation is what constitutes a relatively-easy tweak versus a large, difficult, and time-consuming change. As you suggest edits, it helps to think of your new animation as a house. If you step into a house you have just built from a blueprint (your storyboard, in this case), tweaking the interior includes small changes, like paint colour or furniture layout. A large change is knocking off a room and replacing it with another or tearing up the wood floor and replacing it with tiles. In an animation, each scene is a room in your house. If you’d like to change the look of something within a scene without fundamentally altering the structure or movements of the scene itself, that is very much part of our animation package. If you’d like to knock a scene off and replace it with another, that will cost more because it is fundamentally more work than we have budgeted for.
So, Where Do I Start?
Now that you’ve acquired Walt Disney levels of animation insight, why not use the format to speak directly to your audience, and if you don’t have an audience, use animation content to create one! Here’s your next steps below: